Do Voters Look to the Future?

Economics and Elections

By Brad Lockerbie

Subjects: Electoral Politics, American Culture, Democracy
Paperback : 9780791474822, 170 pages, July 2009
Hardcover : 9780791474815, 170 pages, June 2008

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
1. Introduction
2. Simple Economic Relationships
Appendix 2. 1: Prospective Evaluations: Are They Partisan Rationalization?
3. Party Identification: Is It Changeable?
Is It Explicable?
Appendix 3. 1: Instrumental Variables for PIDt21 (3-Point and 7-Point Scales)
Appendix 3. 2: Party Identification as a Function of Retrospective and Prospective Economic Evaluations with Actual Past Party Identification (3-Point and 7-Point Scales)
Appendix 3. 3: Party Identification as a Function of Changes in Evaluations (3-Point and 7-Point Scales)
4. Presidential Elections: A More Comprehensive View
5. Congressional Elections: Yes, the Senate Too
6. Economics and Politics: Egocentric or Sociotropic?
Appendix 6. 1: Retrospective Egocentric and Sociotropic Items Predicting Political Attitudes: 1992
Appendix 6. 2: Retrospective Egocentric, Sociotropic, and Prospective Items Predicting Political
Attitudes: 1992
Appendix 6. 3: Retrospective Egocentric, Sociotropic, and Prospective Economic Evaluations, Ideology, and Party Identification Predicting Political
Attitudes: 1992
7. Forecasting Elections
Appendix 7. 1: Data and Sources of Data
8. Concluding Remarks

Argues in favor of a different model of voting behavior.


Do voters look to the past, the future, or both when deciding how to vote? In Do Voters Look to the Future?, Brad Lockerbie shows voters to be more sophisticated than much of the work in political science would suggest. He argues that voters do not simply reward or punish the incumbent administration, but instead make a comparative evaluation of the likely performance of each candidate and vote for the one that will most likely provide them with a prosperous future. Making use of data from 1956 through the present, Lockerbie finds that voters take into account both what has happened and what they think will happen when they vote. He finds these economic evaluations to be strongly related to voting behavior both for the House and the Senate, as well as the presidency. Additionally, Lockerbie examines the role of these economic items to explain changes in party identification.

Brad Lockerbie is Professor and Chair of Political Science at East Carolina University.


"…a thought-provoking argument that comprehensively surveys the theory and literature regarding the degree to which voters look to the past and future in making their decisions … Lockerbie's work takes up a neglected subject and shows why it deserves more attention. " — American Review of Politics

"…[Lockerbie's] volume adds to the mounting evidence that voters base their decisions more on concern about the future than on their reaction to what has already passed. " — Political Science Quarterly

"This book deals with a very important subject within the economic voting literature: the significance of retrospective versus prospective judgments. It helps overcome the wrongful neglect of the prospective school. " — Michael S. Lewis-Beck, coauthor of Economics and Elections: The Major Western Democracies